SFGate

Stylemaker Spotlight:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take one look at Ashley Roi Jenkins' portfolio and it's clear that this is a designer who knows how to balance colors, patterns, textures and touches of whimsy.

There's the Ross Valley residence with a lime-green kitchen counter. The sparkling beaded wallpaper, in chocolate and copper hues, that she chose for the 2005 San Francisco Decorator Showcase powder room. And in her own Presidio Heights place, Jenkins has successfully brought together a tufted pale blue sofa, pink linen drapes, a zebra-print rug and earth-toned grass-cloth wallpaper. She described her home's decor as "warm, midcentury design with traditional twists."

Jenkins grew up in Texas, where she worked in her family's antique store. "I used to accompany my parents to auctions for items in broken-down churches in the middle of nowhere," she said. "It taught me the purveyor approach to my work and life and how it creates your story and journey."

After studying interior design at UCLA, she eventually made her way north to San Francisco and opened Ashley Roi Jenkins Design (arjdesign.com) in 2001. She currently has her hands full with client projects, teaching at the Fashion Institute of Merchandising & Design and launching a new budget-friendly service.

Jenkins likened it to ordering a la carte from a menu. Upon reviewing her design proposal, rather than signing on for the complete package, clients can now pick and choose which items they want to proceed with - based on their priorities and pocketbooks.

"People are being a lot more thoughtful about how they spend money," she said, "so it makes sense to give them more control over how they choose to decorate."

The Jenkins' cheat sheet

Little luxuries: "Fresh flowers or plants. Simple candles are nice, expensive ones are not necessary. Keeping your place tidy and clutter-free would be my least expensive suggestion. ... Oh, and good lighting. Key areas need to be lit - not just one big light for the whole room."

S.F. Flower Mart tips: "Arrive early, dress warmly and be well fueled. Know why you are there and know what you want. Be prepared to carry all items to your car and have protective covers on upholstery if you don't want it to get dirty." (sfflmart.com)

Design comeback: ''The 1970s couture furnishings. Low-slung furniture. Tub chairs, big low coffee tables, rounded sectionals, brass, copper. Think Liza Minnelli's New York penthouse circa Studio 54 heyday."

Her design bible: "Call me a geek, but I use this technical book, "Interior Graphic and Design Standards," more than any other book. It's a textbook, so it's not pretty. But it tells you everything about periods of furniture, remodeling, space planning, materials. When in doubt, I refer to this book."

Go green: "3form (3-form.com) is leading the way in inexpensive materials with high impact visually, is lightweight and is sustainable. NEFF (neffkitchens.com) is a Canadian company that knows how to build kitchen cabinetry. They have lots of bells and whistles and are not a fortune. IceStone (icestone.biz) makes countertops, walls and floors. They use 100 percent recycled glass. All of these items are located at the Green Home Center (thegreenhomecenter.net)."

The right white: "Benjamin Moore's Vanilla Milkshake (OC-59) or Mayonnaise (OC-85) is the perfect white for Northern California. It is the light quality in the atmosphere."